Shakespeare Connected - ‘The natural gates and alleys of the body’ (Hamlet, 1.5.67): Physicality, Hygiene and Bodily Waste in Shakespeare’s World
Chamber pots or ‘Jordans’
Lack of plumbing and electric lights must have made a nocturnal trip outside a cold and unwelcome interruption of a good night’s sleep; far easier to reach under the bed. Complaining about the deficiencies of his inn accommodation, the Second Carrier remarks, ‘they will allow us ne’er a jordan, and then we leak in your chimney’ (Henry IV Part 1, 2.1.19). The OED suggests the term jordan is medieval. OED also includes the eighteenth-century jordeloo or gardyloo – the alarm call shouted down to the street warning that the jordan’s contents were about to be thrown from the window.
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